Karl makes landfall near Veracruz; Igor slightly weaker

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:29 PM GMT on September 17, 2010

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Hurricane Karl made landfall on the Mexican coast ten miles north of Veracruz at 1pm EDT today as a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. Veracruz was on the weak (left) side of Karl's eyewall, and did not receive hurricane force winds, except perhaps at the extreme northern edge of the city. Winds at the Veracruz Airport, located on the west side of the city, peaked at sustained speeds of 46 mph, gusting to 58 mph, at 11:54am local time. Radar out of Alvarado shows that Karl has kept its eyewall intact well inland, even as the storm moves into the high mountains east of Mexico City. Karl was the first major hurricane on record in the Bay of Campeche--the region of the Gulf of Mexico bounded by the Yucatan Peninsula on the east. There were two other major hurricanes that grazed the northern edge of the Bay of Campeche, Hurricane Hilda of 1955 and Hurricane Charley of 1951, but Karl is by far the farthest south a major hurricane has been in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane records go back to 1851, but Karl is a small storm and could have gotten missed as being a major hurricane before the age of aircraft reconnaissance (1945).


Figure 1. Tracks of all major hurricanes since 1851 near Mexico's Bay of Campeche. Karl is most southerly storm on record in the Gulf of Mexico. Image credit: NOAA Coastal Services Center.

With Karl's ascension to major hurricane status, we are now ahead of the pace of the terrible hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 for number of major hurricanes so early in the year. In 2005, the fifth major hurricane (Rita) did not occur until September 21, and in 2004, the fifth major hurricane (Karl) arrived on September 19. Wunderblogger Cotillion has put together a nice page showing all the seasons with five or more major hurricanes. The last time we had five major hurricanes earlier in the season was in 1961, when the fifth major hurricane (Esther) arrived on September 13. This morning we continue to have three simultaneous hurricanes, Hurricanes Igor, Julia, and Karl. This is a rare phenomena, having occurred only eight previous years since 1851. The last time we had three simultaneous hurricanes in the Atlantic was in 1998. That year also had four simultaneous hurricanes--Georges, Ivan, Jeanne and Karl--for a brief time on September 25. There has been just one other case of four simultaneous Atlantic hurricanes, on August 22, 1893. The year 2005 came within six hours of having three hurricanes at the same time, but the official data base constructed after the season was over indicates that the three hurricanes did not exist simultaneously.

Also remarkable this year is that are seeing major hurricanes in rare or unprecedented locations. Julia was the strongest hurricane on record so far east, Karl was the strongest hurricane so far south in the Gulf of Mexico, and Earl was the 4th strongest Atlantic hurricane so far north. This unusual major hurricane activity is likely due, in part, to the record Atlantic sea surface temperatures this year.


Figure 2. Hurricane Karl as seen by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite at 12:20 pm CDT on Thursday, September 16, 2010. Image credit: NASA.


Figure 3. Radar image of Karl at landfall in Mexico. Image credit: Mexican Weather Service.

Impact of Karl on Mexico
Given that the Bay of Campeche coast has never experienced a hurricane as strong as Karl, its impact is likely to cause major damage to a 50-mile wide coastal area beginning ten miles north of Veracruz. Fortunately, the coast is not heavily populated there, and is not particularly low-lying, so the 12 - 15 foot storm surge will not be the major concern from Karl. The main concern will be flooding from Karl's torrential rains. The region has been hit by three Category 2 hurricanes over the past 55 years, and two of these storms caused flooding that killed hundreds. The strongest hurricanes in history to affect the region were Item in 1950, with 110 mph winds, Janet in 1955, with 100 mph winds, and Diana of 1990, with 100 mph winds. Flooding from Janet killed over 800 people in Mexico. and flooding from Diana killed at least 139 people. Karl's high winds are also a major concern, and these winds are likely to extensive damage.

Igor
The Hurricane Hunters just left Hurricane Igor, and found that the hurricane has continued to slowly weaken. On their last pass through the eye of Igor at 1:49 pm EDT, an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found a central pressure of 947 mb. The eyewall was missing a chunk on its southwest side. Top winds at the surface as seen by their SFMR instrument were barely Category 1 strength, 76 mph, though the aircraft did see 117 mph winds at 10,000 feet, which suggests the surface winds were probably of Category 2 strength, 105 mph.


Figure 4. Hurricane Igor as seen by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite at 10:50 am EDT on Thursday, September 16, 2010. Image credit: NASA.

Igor's impact on Bermuda
Hurricane warnings are now flying for Bermuda, and tropical storm force winds will arrive at the island late Saturday night. Igor is a huge storm, and tropical storm force winds extend out 290 miles to the north of its center. As the hurricane moves north, it will expand in size, as it takes advantage of the extra spin available at higher latitudes due to Earth's rotation. By Saturday night, Igor's tropical storm force winds are expected to extend outwards 320 miles from the center. Igor will be moving at about 11 - 13 mph during the final 24 hours of its approach to Bermuda, so the island can expect a period of 39+ mph tropical storm force winds to begin near midnight Saturday night--a full 24 hours before the core of Igor arrives. Igor will speed up to about 15 mph as it passes the island near midnight Sunday night, and Bermuda's battering by tropical storm force winds will not be as long as Igor moves away, perhaps 10 hours long. Hurricane force winds will probably extend out about 70 miles from the center when the core of Igor reaches Bermuda, and the island can expect to be pounded by hurricane force winds for up to 6 - 8 hours. In all, Bermuda is likely to suffer a remarkably long 36-hour period of tropical storm force winds, with the potential for many hours of hurricane force winds. Long duration poundings like this are very stressful for buildings, and there is the potential for significant damage on Bermuda. However, buildings in Bermuda are some of the best-constructed in the world, and if Igor weakens to Category 2 strength, as appears likely, damage on the island may be just a few million dollars. According to AIR Worldwide, "Homes in Bermuda are typically one or two stories and constructed of 'Bermuda Stone,' a locally quarried limestone, or of concrete blocks. Roofs are commonly made of limestone slate tiles cemented together. Commercial buildings, typically of reinforced concrete construction, rarely exceed six stories. In both residential and commercial buildings, window openings are generally small and window shutters are common. These features make Bermuda's building stock quite resistant to winds, and homes are designed to withstand sustained winds of 110 mph and gusts of up to 150 mph."

Bermuda's hurricane history
Igor is similar in strength and projected track to Hurricane Fabian of 2003. Fabian hit Bermuda as a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds. It was the most damaging hurricane ever to hit the island, with $355 million in damage. Fabian's storm surge killed four people crossing a causeway on the island. These were the first hurricane deaths on Bermuda since 1926. The most powerful hurricane on record to strike Bermuda was the Category 4 Havana-Bermuda Hurricane, which hit on October 22, 1926, with 135 mph winds. The hurricane sank two British warships, claiming 88 lives, but no one was killed on the island. The deadliest hurricane to affect the island occurred on September 12, 1839, when a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds and an 11-foot storm surge hit, tearing off the roofs of hundreds of buildings and wrecking several ships. An estimated 100 people were killed (source: Encyclopedia of Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones, by David Longshore.)

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave off the coast of Africa, a few hundred miles south of the Cape Verdes Islands, is disorganized, but has the potential for some slow development over the next few days. The NOGAPS model develops this wave into a tropical depression 4 - 5 days from now. NHC is giving the wave a 10% of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday.

I'll have a new post on Saturday.

Jeff Masters

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that poor island it is so small compared to Igor
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Atmoaggie - soz was fixing AC then lost first try at post re 643 and prev wind map

643 pic looks like Igor recently - wind map was at 1800 - I was looking at North Atlantic - Rainbow Color Infrared Loop at 1800 (early frame now) - not sure abt yr pic but on GOES Rainbow Igor got rounder in the red a little after 1800
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Quoting CaptnDan142:


I hate to seem disagreeable, but if people are in imminent danger and they are coming to a blog like this, well, they're bucking for a Darwin award.

Discussion? Yes
Accurate information in a time of need? No way.
Local Emergency Management and the NHC when it gets dicey.
I like to get my information from as many sources as possible and then formulate my own plan of action.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket?

By the way, the NHC is still a government agency, and we know how government can.....oh well I won't go any further!
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Looks that way. A little intensification is still possible over the next 24 hours. Bermuda better be ready.

Did you notice how half of the blog's recent pages are about future storms forecast by models or OT stuff? It's surprising to see the lack of interest for Igor.
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Note BELCO = Bermuda Electric Light Company

BELCO On Standby, Preparing For Worst

September 17, 2010

BELCO says if Hurricane Igor hits the Island as forecast, they expects there will be extensive damage to the electricity distribution system. The company says they are preparing for the worst, and have positioned equipment at both ends of the Island with crews standing by. They will try to respond to emergencies, such as pole fires or downed live lines, but for obvious reasons will not endanger BELCO crews during a hurricane.

BELCO has sent out a very concise list of ten things “What BELCO Expects from the Storm & What You Can Expect from BELCO.” It follows below:

1. If Hurricane Igor hits the Island as forecast, BELCO expects there will be extensive damage to the electricity distribution system. We are preparing for the worst, and have positioned equipment at both ends of the Island with crews standing by.

2. Before the storm arrives, BELCO urges customers who depend on life support or who have serious medical conditions to make arrangements to ensure they have the care they need. Restoring power to these customers after the hurricane is a priority, but we can do nothing for them during the hurricane, as we cannot dispatch crews during a hurricane.

3. We urge everyone who uses a generator to do so safely, according to manufacturer’s instructions for personal safety and the safety of our crews working on live lines. Go to belco.bm for generator safety tips.

4. As the storm builds on Sunday, BELCO will stop sending out crews when the winds reach consistent storm force, which will be about the same time that the Causeway is closed. Sending out crews during a hurricane is unsafe. We will try to respond to emergencies, such as pole fires or downed live lines, but we will not endanger our own crews during a hurricane.

5. We request that customers wait until after the hurricane has passed to phone 955 to report outages.

6. Despite a myth that comes up with every major storm event – BELCO does NOT shut down engines and turn off power during a storm. We work to keep power flowing to our customers at all times. However, during hurricanes, faults on the distribution lines may result in engines tripping, which in turn may cause load shed.

7. On Monday, after the hurricane, BELCO will send out damage assessment teams to the East, West and Central Parishes. A full restoration plan will be developed from their reports. Damage assessment may take 24 hours or more. The restoration process could take days and in some cases even longer. It all depends on the severity of Hurricane Igor.

8. BELCO works in an organized process to restore power. We restore power to critical customers first, such as people on life support, and to essential services, such as the hospital and airport. Our other priority is restoring power for security of supply, which means restoring power to our substations. After that, we start work to restore power to mainline circuits, so that we can get the maximum number of customers on at one time. Then we work down to branch lines and finally small groups of customers and individual customers.

9. We do not know how long the restoration process will take, but when the storm ends and we have information about damage, and can then put together a restoration plan, we will keep the public informed through the media, our website belco.bm, Facebook and Twitter.

10. BELCO takes great pride in getting the lights back on as efficiently and as quickly as possible, and we appreciate the public’s support and cooperation, as we work through what may be a very demanding restoration process.
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Quoting Chicklit:
You've heard the expression about "company are like fish; they begin to smell after three days."
Same goes for people who expect too much from a blog.
We're all pretty independent here.
Anyone who needs more than chatter and exchanging ideas needs to go elsewhere for that.
That's the nature of this medium.


+
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738. flsky
Quoting LouisianaWoman:
Just for future reference, his blog is still up.
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/StormW

Sorry, no. It disappeared this morning.
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Sometimes I have solved the problem of changing from "average" to ""all by clicking it then going back a page,when I go forward again it "shows all".
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Is Igor's eye clearing up?


Looks like it might be. Thought I saw some Visine.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Is Igor's eye clearing up?


Looks that way. A little intensification is still possible over the next 24 hours. Bermuda better be ready.
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729. G8GT
Ah...a First Amendment fan!
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Quoting atmoaggie:
That would be 1900hurricane.
Thanks, and by the way, I do regard you as one of the few on here that I feel I can trust with their weather knowledge!

PS I if the aggie part of your handle refers to the Texas Aggies, then I won't hold that against you! LOL!
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Here is part 3---although not as interesting, I think



Thanks again:)
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Quoting jrweatherman:


Post 653. I agree with you but for some reason over the past week he attacked anyone and everyone who mentioned anything positive about the NHC or a certain model. I got the "please" when I posted that I thought the NHC was doing a pretty good job with the track of Igor. I even posted facts to prove it. I am no expert and that type of comment coming from an expert was not necessary. He made me feel like I shouldn't post anymore.


The answer to the riddles you seek lay with in the latter portion of the two handles.

The Nogaps has the suspect system in the Carib at 144hrs.



Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
722. G8GT
Well put. Nothing comes close to listening to local authorities, Emergency Management personnel and the NHC.

Even 50 miles one way or another can make a huge difference in who survives and who loses everything (I was there for Charley, Elena, Jeanne, and everything in-between).

And when there's a voluntary evacuation...VOLUNTEER!!
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Is Igor's eye clearing up?
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Last Island Hurricane of 1856

Good book
the statue is still their just under water now
and blessed it with good fishing at times.
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Evening all. CE, It's flip-flopping from Tx-Fl with it is what I think he meant. Still showing it. It's a whole bunch of runs in a row now...And with the catalyst there...Well, becoming less convinced the Conus is going to make it unscathed this year. Still a long way out though.
Thank you SJ...and thank you also to MH09 for his earlier response. I also would be surprised to see the CONUS unscathed.*
.
.
*proper blog etiquiete
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715. Relix
I would pay the Premium service if only premium payers got to post in the comments.
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Actually a lot of the moisture in the gulf is from the spiral bands of Karl.
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This photo was taken at about 6 pm local time this evening. This road is on the South Shore and is actually about 20-25 feet above sea level, to give you some idea of how big the waves are. This area of road was literally destroyed during Fabian in 2003. Waves crashing into caves underneath the road lifted the asphalt off the road for a stretch of about 300 feet, looked like an earthquake had hit. Entire road had to be resurfaced, cliff face reinforced and new barrier erected.

Sorry, can't seem to add the photo, here's the link:

Link
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Evening all. CE, It's flip-flopping from Tx-Fl with it is what I think he meant. Still showing it. It's a whole bunch of runs in a row now...And with the catalyst there...Well, becoming less convinced the Conus is going to make it unscathed this year. Still a long way out though.
And staying out...as in not really moving closer, in time, with each run. (this is what we call "hinting" at a system).

Good Evening, SJ.
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Evening all. CE, It's flip-flopping from Tx-Fl with it is what I think he meant. Still showing it. It's a whole bunch of runs in a row now...And with the catalyst there...Well, becoming less convinced the Conus is going to make it unscathed this year. Still a long way out though.
Yes, I was talking about the final track being shown by the model that was flip-flopping.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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